2011 was a busy year for Glacier National Park. The park made headlines in the national media on a couple of occasions, but also made headlines within the hiking community. Below is my rundown of the top 10 stories from the park over the past year.
10) In 2011 Glacier National Park was featured as the seventh coin in the America the Beautiful Quarters Program. The park and the United States Mint launched the new coin in a ceremony on April 13th.
9) Heavens Peak Fire Lookout Stabilization Project is delayed due to deep snow. In February the park announced plans to stabilize the historic Heavens Peak Fire Lookout, but record snows and more urgent repairs elsewhere postponed those plans until next summer.
8) A mother and son were rescued from McDonald Creek near Red Rock Point on August 17th after the young boy fell in the creek.
7) Descending from the summit of Stanton Peak on May 31st, two female and two male hikers were glissading on a snowfield. One of the male hikers, unable to self-arrest with his ice axe, tumbled over a 30 foot cliff, and slid down an additional 80 feet on snow. The individual had to be airlifted to Kalispell Regional Medical Center by helicopter that evening.
6) On October 15th, 34-year-old Montana resident Jake Bramante became the first person to hike every mile of every trail within Glacier National Park - a total of 734 miles - in only one year!
5) A hiker from Omaha, Nebraska fell to his death on July 18th. The hiker slipped and fell 50-100 feet on a steep snow field while hiking on the Grinnell Glacier Trail.
4) On the morning of August 29th park dispatch received a call informing them that Glacier National Park seasonal employee Jacob Rigby, a member of the exotic plant team, was overdue from a personal day hike in the park. Rigby's supervisor notified park rangers that he did not show for work at his scheduled time. On September 2nd search personnel found his body on a mountain known as "8888" in the southern end of the park. An early investigation indicated that Rigby may have fallen approximately 800 feet on the north side of the extremely steep mountain.
3) On August 5th a hiker on the trail from Many Glacier to Piegan Pass was attacked by a grizzly bear. The 50-year male hiker was hiking alone when he rounded a bend in the trail and surprised a sow grizzly with one sub-adult. The bear bit his left thigh and left forearm, and then grabbed his foot, shook him, released him and left the area. The hiker was carrying bear spray, but was unable to deploy it before the bear attacked. The man hiked back toward Many Glacier when he encountered a naturalist ranger leading a hike. The ranger notified dispatch while the man continued to the Many Glacier Ranger Station where he was treated for his injuries and then transported to the Blackfeet Community Hospital in Browning.
2) Sometime during this past mid-winter season, an avalanche slid off Lincoln Peak and plowed into the south end of the dormitory of the Sperry Chalet. The backcountry hotel, accessed only by a 6-mile hike, sustained a fair amount of damage, and resulted in a truncated tourist season this summer. Snow and debris damaged the roof, broke a door, took off some shutters, and blew open windows. Four rooms on the interior were completely filled with snow. The damage delayed the opening, and forced an early summer closure as crews worked to complete repairs before another winter set in.
1) The winter of 2010/2011 was truly an historic one for Glacier National Park. A park press release at the end of April reported that USGS snow surveys measured 106 inches of snow on the ground at the 5,900 foot level near Siyeh Bend on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. A whopping 166 inches were recorded at the 7,000 foot level! All that snow resulted in the latest opening date ever for the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The road, which tops out at Logan Pass at an elevation of 6646 feet, didn’t open until July 13th this year. The prior record for the latest opening date was set in 1953 when the road didn’t open until June 24th. The famous Highline Trail at Logan Pass didn't open until July 29th!
Hiking in Glacier.com